January 18, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Seventeen – 2017 Poetry Books for Kids

P-p-p-poetry! Motto: It’s not just for April anymore. In a given year I tend to run out of poetry books for kids to review. I’ll find five or six spectacular ones, and then a handful of hundrum okay-but-not-great titles to fill in the gaps. 2017 changed the rules on me. Suddenly I found myself with […]

31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Seventeen – 2017 Poetry Books for Kids

P-p-p-poetry! Motto: It’s not just for April anymore. In a given year I tend to run out of poetry books for kids to review. I’ll find five or six spectacular ones, and then a handful of hundrum okay-but-not-great titles to fill in the gaps. 2017 changed the rules on me. Suddenly I found myself with […]

31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Sixteen – 2017 Oddest Books of the Year

Keep Children’s Literature Weird. There. There’s your rallying cry for the day. Now Travis Jonker has been nice and consistent on this front, producing his lists of The Most Astonishingly Unconventional Children’s Books every year since 2012. You’re bound to see some overlap with this list, but I’ve a couple of my own particular favorites […]

31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Sixteen – 2017 Oddest Books of the Year

Keep Children’s Literature Weird. There. There’s your rallying cry for the day. Now Travis Jonker has been nice and consistent on this front, producing his lists of The Most Astonishingly Unconventional Children’s Books every year since 2012. You’re bound to see some overlap with this list, but I’ve a couple of my own particular favorites […]

31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Fifteen: 2017 Fairy Tales / Folktales

Ah! One of my favorite lists. Not a long one, to be sure, but beloved. As I’m sure you’ve heard me say far too many times, in the history of children’s librarianship there was once a plethora of folktales and fairytales published every single year. Some of them were great, some them were hugely problematic, […]

31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Fourteen – 2017 Fabulous Photography

Well, folks, I’m sick. Sick as a dog. Sick as a dog on a log in a bog (I think I’ve been writing up picture books too long). Fortunately, and by complete coincidence, today’s post is going to be an easy one. Folks that know me well are aware that there was a time when, […]

31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Thirteen – 2017 Picture Books With a Message

Let’s have some fun defining our terms. What exactly do I mean when I say “books with a message”? Basically, I’m talking about books that wear their hearts on their sleeves. We all know that in their earliest form, when people were initially coming up with the idea of making literature for children, the primary […]

31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Twelve – 2017 Translated Picture Books

Initially I think I was going to call this list “2017 Imports” but that was a bit on the vague side. And was I really going to include all the Australian, British, Irish, Canadian, etc. books I admired this year? Seems a bit much. No, let’s instead offer an homage to the delightful translations of […]

31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Eleven – 2017 Bilingual Children’s Books

I wish I had kept better statistics over the course of my children’s librarian career. Maybe if I had I could give you a sense of whether or not the number of bilingual children’s books published in 2017 was higher or lower than normal. As it currently stands, I’m just pleased to see these books […]

31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Ten – 2017 Math Picture Books

It’s almost unfair that I’m not including math for older readers on today’s list, but for that I think you’ll be best suited turning to the awesome Mathical Awards, given out each year. The Mathical Book Prize (given by a committee of math teachers, working mathematicians, and the occasional librarian like me) celebrates math in […]

31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Nine – 2017 Picture Book Reprints

Reprints! I may as well call this the zombie list for all that they’re celebrated, but celebrated they should be. I am always truly delighted when a picture book rises from the out-of-print dead to engage and delight young readers once more. Steadily throughout the year I’ve kept track of some of the brighter stars […]

31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Eight – 2017 CaldeNotts

They can’t win a darn thing, and that’s the truth. Sorta. Each year picture books are considered and assessed by the Caldecott committee to determine which titles are the “most distinguished” contributions to the field of children’s literature. And every year truly beautiful contenders will fall by the wayside, winning nothing. Why? Because when the […]

31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Seven – 2017 Funny Picture Books

And now, what could arguably be considered our most subjective of lists. As I like to say when I’m on the road with Funny Girl, humor really changes from person to person. What makes me laugh isn’t necessarily going to be what makes you laugh and vice versa. Still, I have this thing about honoring […]

31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Six – 2017 Alphabet Books

There’s always one. One sneaky little abecedarian delight that manages to elude my notice when I type up this list. This year it was almost The Little Red Cat, but I managed to remember it just in time. Still . . . I don’t trust myself. Someone’s not here. Can you figure out who it […]

31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Five – 2017 Rhyming Picture Books

This year something struck me about the rhyming picture book crop that usually eludes my notice. I think it’s easy to assume that because a book rhymes, it’s automatically funny. But some of the books on today’s list, like The Road Home or even The Pomegranate Witch, dare to be touching. This begs the question […]

Fantasy You Don’t Want to Miss, a Two-fer

Let’s talk about heart books. Because today I want to call your attention to two books that are long shots at best, but which I loved them dearly as a reader. More than that, despite the flaws that I predict will ultimately sink them, these are strong books that deserve close attention. Both are contemporary fantasy, […]

31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Four – 2017 Picture Book Readalouds

When I became a children’s librarian the most nail-biting aspect of the job was, without a doubt, storytime. Granted, this may have had something to do with the fact that as part of my training meant doing a storytime for adults. Kids, as it turns out, are a completely different ballgame. My earliest attempts at […]

31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Three – 2017 Wordless Picture Books

You know what’s funny? Last year I fully intended to do a wordless picture book list, but wasn’t able to find enough books. This year I was going to do nursery rhymes, and then found a complete and utter lack of them. But wordless? Not a problem! Wordless appears to be back, to the point […]

31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Two – 2017 Board Book Reprints and Adaptations

All right, class. Let’s define our terms. This year board books fell into three distinct categories. First, there are the original publications, such as you might find on yesterday’s 2017 Board Books list. Then there are reprints. These are books that were published originally as board books but went out of print at some point. […]

31 Days, 31 Lists: Day One – 2017 Great Board Books

The lists begin! And as with last year we’re kicking off with the youngest of readers. This is by no means the only list you’ll find out there of best board books of 2017. However, I do like to distinguish between my age groups when I present this list. As far as I’m concerned, board […]